September 2004

Capt. Sandra Tong: Police Beat

National Night Out
This year's National Night Out was a great success. Many members of the community came to the Muriel Leff Mini-Park on Seventh Avenue to celebrate an evening of public safety awareness with Acting Capt. Miriam Pengel and officers from the Richmond Station.

Officer Craig Kuwabara, from the Traffic Company, was there with his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and submitted to having his photograph taken with young attendees.

We also had a demonstration by the SF Police Department's K-9 Unit, with Sgt. Darryl Tsujimoto and officers Robert Byrne, Anthony Montoya and Sonia Mariona joining us. Representing the U.S. Park Police was its K-9 Unit, headed by officer Russ Kidd.

Tsujimoto MC'd the presentation. He explained, and then had the officers demonstrate how, dogs search for drugs or explosive devices and how they communicate with their handlers. A dog that locates drugs, for example, will use an aggressive alert by digging and scratching at the area in question; whereas, a dog searching for a destructive device will use a passive alert, like sitting on its hind legs to signal the location of a device.

Finally, Tsujimoto demonstrated how an officer's dog is trained to attack or desist on the command of the dog's handler. The coup de theatre, though, was when officer Mariona attempted to arrest two suspects (officers Byrne and Montoya), one of which turned to assault her. The officer's dog, needing no other command, charged the assailant. That's one great partner.

Other highlights included a visit by McGruff, the Crime Prevention Teddy Dog, accompanied by David Chen of Safety Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) and a visit by SF Fire Chief Joanna Hayes-White. A good time was had by all.

Traffic Concerns
Traffic concerns head the list of priorities for most members of the Richmond community - with good reason.

A review of traffic collision statistics from Jan. 1, 2003 through Jul. 31, 2003 were compared with the same period in 2004. According to the city's new CrimeMaps system, there were 419 collisions in the Richmond for the period in 2003, compared with 432 for 2004.

It is probably no surprise to Richmond residents that the most troublesome areas are 25th Avenue, from Crossover Drive (in Golden Gate Park) to Lake Street, Park Presidio Boulevard and the entire Geary Boulevard corridor. The majority of accidents in these locations are at intersections with signal lights. The primary causes for these accidents are red light violations and speeding. One invariably follows the other. Vehicles that are traveling above the speed limit are less likely to slow down for yellow signals than their counterparts traveling at the speed limit, thus raising the number of signal-related collisions. It is important that drivers slow down, obey posted speed laws and stop at stop signs and light signals. A yellow signal means prepare to stop, not to speed up in an attempt to "beat the red." I have said this before, but will say it again, please drive with care.

The SF Police Commission is planning to visit the Richmond District on Wednesday, Oct. 27. The time and location were unavailable as of presstime. The Police Commission is interested in hearing from the community on issues related to the Police Department. I will also have a brief presentation regarding crime and community policing in the district.

The next community meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m., at the Richmond Station's Community Room. The guest speaker has not been confirmed but if you are on the mailing list, a notice will be sent to you when the speaker is confirmed.

Beginning Monday, Oct. 4, I will be writing a weekly newsletter updating the community about crime trends, wanted persons or vehicles and other miscellaneous police and public-safety-related issues. For more information, via e-mail, e-mail For those of you interested in receiving the newsletter, but do not have an e-mail address, copies will be available in the lobby of the Richmond Station.

Capt. Sandra Tong is the commanding officer at the Richmond Police Station.